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tv   Senate Judiciary Chair Grassley Response to Minority Leader Reid  CSPAN  March 1, 2016 2:51am-3:09am EST

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madam president? sorry about that. the presiding officer: the democratic leader. mr. reid: there was a day when that's all we did, but not so anymore. madam president, history won't forget this misstep by grassley, it says. "history won't forget this misstep by grassley." "the hawkeye" burlington, iowa,
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the oldest newspaper in the state in iowa. an editorial in iowa's oldest newspaper, as i indicated, "the burlington hawkeye." the misstep is an unprecedented decision by the senior senator from iowa and the republican leader to deny the president to fill the current supreme court vacancy. the editorial ends with this declaration -- and i quote -- "a few weeks back when the longest tenured senator from iowa passed a vote we lauded his service to us. we noted in casting votes on matters before the senate, he was doing what iowans elected him to do. we gave grassley an atta boy for that. we take it back. we take it back. that's a blistering statement. a revealing statement, a substantive statement. we take it back. there's a lesson that senator
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grassley and my republican colleagues should learn from this editorial. by refusing to give president obama's supreme court a meeting, a hearing, or a vote, they are banning the oath of office they swore when they became a united states senator. this abdication of their constitutional responsibilities will epitomize their work in the united states as a senator. whatever they may have accomplished through their careers will be secondary to their decision to place electoral politics over their job. remember, our job is here to vote. that's what we swore to do. to follow the constitution, and the constitution couldn't be clearer on this issue. so the stakes should even be higher for senator grassley than the other republican senators. why? because as judiciary chairman, senator grassley presides over one of the most important and prestigious committees in the entire united states senate. this has been the case for 200
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years. 200 years. the senate judiciary committee was established 200 years ago. in 1816 it was one of the original 118 standing committees 20 decades passed, that's how long the committee's been in operation. throughout history judiciary committee chairs have wielded immense power and president martin van buren, when he was in the senate, senator ted kennedy, senator arlen specter, senator joe biden, judiciary chairmen have prized their independence and guarded it from being man handled. the past chairmen stood firm and faced opposition from presidents and senate leadership. at crucial times in american history, the senate and the nation have looked to the judiciary committee to do the right thing. during the civil war, chairman
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liman trumble and his committee authored the 13th amendment. the 13th amendment abolished slavery during the civil war. we know during that period of time there was great consternation as to what should be done. even the great president lincoln had trouble deciding what should be done during the early days of the civil war. in 1889, chairman george hoar from massachusetts and his committee drafted the sherman antitrust act refusing to give in to carnegie, vanderbilt and rockefeller monopolies. that was big-time n independence. in 1937, chairman henry ashers from arizona, who was born in winnemaka, nevada, stood in the way of president roosevelt's attempt to pack the supreme court. chairman ashers was a democrat, just like president roosevelt.
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yet ashers and the committee maintained their independence even against the wishes of senate majority leader alvin barkley, long-time united states senator. but he became vice president later. imagine that. he was senate majority leader. he was from kentucky. imagine that. judiciary committee chair standing up to a majority leader from kentucky. the accomplishments of these powerful chairs and many others are the historical models against which the senior senator from iowa will be measured. if he keeps his current obstruction, history will not be kind to his tenure as chairman of the committee. as of today, the chairman has yielded his committee's long-held authority and independence to the republican leader for the sole purpose of weakening president obama, of weakening the presidency of the united states and obstructing the senate's work. the chairman has turned the
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impartial reputation of the judiciary committee into an extension of the trump campaign. just last month, chairman grassley spoke at a rally for donald trump in iowa. at that rally, the chairman said, and i quote -- "we've had this trend going this way, away from the basic principles that established our government, so we have an opportunity once again to make america great again." before i close quote, let's remember what he said -- "we've had this trend going this way, away from the basic principles that established our government ." my friend from iowa would do well to look at his own committee as it trends away from , again, the quote, away from the basic principles that established our government. that's what the senator from iowa said at the trump rally. even now he and his committee are wasting millions of taxpayer
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dollars developing partisan research for secretary clinton. it's been going on many, many months, more than a year, including asking for ma materniy leave, records for staffers and time sheets from our office. just basic staff people. and for months, senator grassley blocked the confirmation of state department officials. even career foreign service officers who are here so we could give them a raise after their valiant service all over the world. he held that up, and people couldn't understand it. it had nothing to do with secretary clinton. he did it as a way to weaken the presidency of president obama. what he has done is damaged the united states diplomacy worldwide. election day is more than eight months away, but it's affecting nearly every action taken by the grassley judiciary committee. there is much more at stake here than senator grassley's reputation. when committee independence is threatened by partisan politics,
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the future of this institution hangs in the balance, and when the senate is undermined, our democracy is undermined. future generations will suffer irreparably if the senator from iowa continues to do the bidding of the republican leader and the donald trumps of the new republican party. senator grassley and i have worked together for three decades. the first speech i gave here on the senate floor, my maiden speech, served a couple terms in the house, i came here. my seat was way back there. i gave my first speech, i talked about the taxpayers' bill of rights. an idea i had in the house, i couldn't get past first base. presiding on the senate that day was senator pryor, david pryor from arkansas who was chairman of the subcommittee on the internal revenue service. senator grassley was also listening. they both contacted me. in fact, i received a note from
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senator pryor and a call from senator grassley saying i really like that legislation, i'll work to help you, and they did, and we got that passed. so i have nothing personal against senator grassley. i like him. he helped me pass something that was landmark legislation as a brand-new freshman senator. but today as a united states senator, i have a duty to speak when the republican senate refuses to follow its constitutional obligations to provide advice and consent on the president's supreme court nomination. as a senator, i have a duty to demand that the judiciary committee considers important judicial nominees, especially, especially someone to fill a vacancy on the supreme court. as senate judiciary chair, the senior senator from iowa has a job to do. my criticism, i repeat, is not personal, it's professional, and it's substantive. the senior senator from iowa
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outlined that job himself when he assumed the chairmanship of the judiciary committee. when he took over as chairman, he promised republicans, and i quote -- "to restore the senate to the deliberative body the founders intended." i mean, listen to that. that's what he said -- "to restore the senate to the deliberative body the founders intended." that's a quote. he said he took the responsibility, another quote, -- "of vetting the nominees for life-time appointments to the federal judiciary very seriously." close quote. the senior senator from iowa is failing this commitment that he made to himself. he made it. he made the commitment. restore the senate to the deliberative body that the founders intended. the founders are the people that wrote the constitution. he's the first chair of this important committee to take the unprecedented step of refusing to meet, conduct hearings or
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hold a vote on the supreme court nomination. he is following the republican leaders' call to refuse the president's nominee meeting, the hearing or a vote. the senior senator from iowa, of all people, should know how important a vote is. my friend has a lot of record of not missing roll call votes. 7,545 consecutive votes as of today. what good are 7,500 consecutive votes if you simply sweep the votes you don't like to take under the rug? it taints this achievement. if he doesn't like president obama's nominee, he doesn't have to vote for the nominee, but don't run from a hard vote, don't hide. what good is the chairmanship if it's a rubber stamp for partisan politics. what good is the chairmanship if it's used to weaken the senate and disrupt our constitutional system of checks and balances, and that's what it does. last week the "des moines register" published an open
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letter from one of senator grassley's former employees. it was stunning. he worked here in the senate. this man captures what's at stake here, and i quote -- "the institution of the senate has managed to perform its constitutional obligations for well over 200 years. every single nominee for the supreme court that is not withdrawn from consideration has received a vote within 125 days. today i feel nothing but shame for the fact that my senator, my former friend, will bring that unbroken history to an end." close quote. that was headline last week in the "des moines register." iowa's largest newspaper. i hope the chairman of the judiciary committee doesn't continue down this path. it will not benefit him, his committee, the senate, the state of iowa or this great country. instead he should follow the example of his predecessors and give president obama's supreme court nominee a meeting, a hearing and a

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